EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

07.01.13

Software Patents and the FTC’s Red Herring

Posted in Patents at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red herring

Summary: The core problem with the USPTO remains unchallenged because the wrong problem — or a symptom rather — is being described and slowly addressed

The USPTO has been harbouring a culture of patenting, motivated for the most part by large corporations’ desire to have mechanisms of protectionism in place, barring or weighing down emerging competition (sometimes domestic but especially foreign). The illusion of a ‘free market’ should be warped to speak of unregulated markets where large corporations are free to do as they please, always assured that the government that they pay will protect them when the need arises, be it by patent monopolies or even espionage overseas (see Cablegate on Boeing for examples). In this culture where offices like the patent office are run by people who came from large corporations (revolving doors) it is not surprising that even so-called ‘reforms’ are structured to benefit large corporations.

According to this report from the corporate media, the US government (a branch of it) “said it created a pilot program in which its six administrative judges will in some cases determine within 100 days if companies that sue for infringement have adequate U.S. production, research or licensing to use the court.”

“In this culture where offices like the patent office are run by people who came from large corporations (revolving doors) it is not surprising that even so-called ‘reforms’ are structured to benefit large corporations.”This is not the right thing to do [1, 2, 3, 4]. What they need to do is assess the quality and especially the scope of the patents, irrespective of the plaintiff. They are doing a sort of ad hominem disservice by looking at a real issue which is nevertheless not the core issue.

Well, citing the pro-software patents blog that lobbies on scope and defends trolls, Groklaw names David Kappos, former head of the USPTO and an IBM faithful. Pamela Jones writes: “This is why Kappos failed. He misunderstood what the criticism of the patent system is about. It has *nothing* to do with a reluctance to pay. It’s about protecting innovation in a system that has allowed such broad functional claiming, blocking off entire areas of software development, that no one can innovate safely any more. That damages the patent system and the economy and it brings innovation to a halt. The rest is ideology and daydreams.”

The FTC is not going to resolve the overall problem even if it tackles patent trolls. The problem is not correctly identified, just a symptom of this problem. As some wise person noted the other day, there is no good understanding of these issues, so the commission will fail. To quote:

First, it notes that the chairwoman of the FTC is expected to recommend an investigation of patent trolls (or “frivolous patent lawsuits” as specified in the headline). The promised further action has not been confirmed, so we will have to wait and see.

The Times then slid around the “patent troll” name and henceforth called them by the less pejorative “patent-assertion entity” or PAE. Still, adding some weight to the promise of action was the “several executive orders” from President Obama “directing executive agencies to take steps to take steps to ‘protect innovators from frivolous litigation.’”

The article goes on to describe patent trolls as typically having no operations other than collecting royalties on patents and says that they accounted for more than 60 percent of the roughly 4,000 patent lawsuits filed last year, up from 29 percent two years earlier.

But then the article notes one company that calls itself a “patent-licensing company,” raising the question of “what’s in a name”.

In any case, the Times expects the full commission (two Democrats and two Republicans, with one seat empty), to approve a study.

What they fail to see is that a large company like Microsoft is also engaged in patent assertion. Some say Microsoft makes billions of dollars this way, at the expense of those who actually sell products that customers want. It makes Microsoft not all that different from patent trolls. Sometimes Microsoft uses a proxy like Vringo, which Troll Tracker describes as follows today:

But is that really what Vringo is doing? Are they taking someone’s IP and making something useful out of it, because that person/company cannot? Or are they taking patents that were sold to them by, oh, I dunno, Microsoft just for instance, and using them as a bully stick with which to beat other companies who have already manufactured something of good use and likely didn’t even infringe but will settle so they don’t have to litigate? That’s what would be a bad thing, right?

To get an example of classic patent trolls, see this new article from Joe Mullin, who says that “With so many patents out there claiming rights to basic Web-based technologies, at this point there aren’t many businesses in America that are unaffected by so-called “patent trolls.” But one troll, ArrivalStar, found a fresh set of targets that earned it serious scorn: public transit systems.”

Here is another article about it. “For several years now,” it says, “a curious company called ArrivalStar – which has no website, appears to produce nothing, and is oddly registered in Luxembourg – has been systematically suing public transit agencies in the United States. As we wrote last April, the company holds a collection of dubious patents tied to the technology of tracking vehicles in motion. And it has been using them to claim patent infringement by transit agencies that … track vehicles in motion.”

“At the end of the day the largest corporations will benefit and everyone else will suffer even more.”This is starting to get a lot of national coverage.Public transit agencies across US say they’re being squeezed by questionable patent lawsuits, according to the Washington Post. Another article says that “A patent holding company has filed eight lawsuits against U.S. banking institutions in recent weeks, claiming patent infringement on products and services related to security and electronic banking.”

What makes this troll a problem is that it hurts the rich, and therefore politicians will go after it with great passion. To Quote further: “In some cases, the patents mentioned in these suits are alleged to cover basic banking functions and features used in ATM and online-banking transactions. In other cases, even cryptography methods used to conform to security standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, have been brought into question, Denaro says.”

A simple ban on software and business method patents would resolve this, but the government goes after those entities not because of their patents but because of their business model. What a red herring this is. At the end of the day the largest corporations will benefit and everyone else will suffer even more.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 18/1/2017: Red Hat's OpenShift 3.4, Mozilla's New Logo/Branding

    Links for the day



  2. Union-Busting Action by Team Battistelli Takes Heavy Toll, Techrights Will Continue to Expose EPO Injustices to the World

    The Staff Union of the European Patent Office, SUEPO, which faced unprecedented and probably illegal (based on local laws) attacks, is being weakened by the worst President ever, whose own management team seems to be collapsing along with the institution he is destroying in just a few years



  3. A Lot More Fake News About the UPC, Trying to Convince People That the UK is Ratifying (It's Not, It Cannot)

    Response to some of the latest misleading (self-serving) whispers about the fate of the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is in a deadlock due to Brexit



  4. Rumours Suggest That EPO Management is Aware of Decline in Patent Quality and is Thus Actively Lying About it to the Media/Public

    Whenever Battistelli brags about patent quality he may be consciously and deliberately lying through his teeth if the latest rumours are correct



  5. Links 17/1/2017: GIMP Plans, New Raspberry Pi Product

    Links for the day



  6. Resumption of EPO Propaganda ('Meet the President') Officially Starts Tomorrow

    Yet another one of these foolish 'Meet the President' stunts, scheduled to take place tomorrow morning



  7. Caricature: Battistelli's New Year's Resolution (More EPO Lies)

    The latest cartoon being circulated within the European Patent Office (EPO)



  8. Donald Trump Gives New Hope to Patent Aggressors and Patent Trolls

    Pessimism about the prospects of patent progress or patent reform in an age of staunchly pro-business Conservatives and glorification of protectionism



  9. More Fake News About the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Based on Lobbying Tactics From Bristows UPC and the Preparatory Committee

    Unified Patent Court (UPC) lobbying has gotten so bad that it now infiltrates general media outlets, where people are asked to just blindly assume that the UPC is coming and is inevitable, even though it's clearly in a limbo and is unlikely to see the light of day



  10. EPO Totally Silent for a Month, But Deep Inside There Are Serious Cracks

    The situation at the EPO seems to be pretty grim, even at the top-level management, and the EPO has gone into permanent silence mode



  11. Links 16/1/2017: Linux 4.10 RC4, Linux Mint 18.1 'Serena' KDE Edition Beta

    Links for the day



  12. 'Financial Director' Publishes Fake News About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    Response to some of the latest UPC propaganda, which strives to misinform Financial Directors so as to enrich the author and his firm



  13. Independent and Untainted Web Sites About Patents Are Still Few and Rare

    Commentary about news sources that we rely on, as well as the known pitfalls or the vested interests deeply ingrained in them



  14. The 20% Rule: Patent Trolling Suffers Double-Digit Declines and Patent Troll Technicolor is Collapsing

    Significant demise or total catastrophe for the modus operandi (method) of going after companies with a pile of patents and threats of litigation



  15. US Supreme Court Did Not End Apple's Patent Disputes Over Android (Linux), More Cases Imminent

    An overview of some very recent news regarding the highest court in the United States, which has been dealing with cases that can determine the fate of Free/Open Source software in an age of patent uncertainty and patent thickets surrounding mobility



  16. Links 15/1/2017: Switching From OS X to GNU/Linux, Debian 8.7 Released

    Links for the day



  17. Number of New Patent Cases in the US Fell 25% Last Year, Thanks in Part to the Demise of Software Patent Trolls

    Litigation and prosecutions that rely on patents (failure to resolve disputes, e.g. by sharing ideas, out of court) is down very sharply, in part because firms that make nothing at all (just threaten and/or litigate) have been sinking after much-needed reform



  18. America Invents Act Improved Patent Quality, But Right Wingers Threaten to Make It Worse Again

    The past half a decade saw gradual improvement in assessment of patents in the United States, but there is a growing threat and pressure from the patent microcosm to restore patent maximalism and chaos



  19. PTAB -- Not Deterred by Courts -- Continues to Invalidate a Lot of Software Patents

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continues to make progress reforming the patent system by eliminating a lot of patents and setting an example (or new standards) for what is patent-eligible after Alice



  20. EPO Abuses Come Under Fire From Politicians in Luxembourg

    Luxembourg is the latest nation in which concerns about the EPO's serious abuses are brought up not only by the media but also by politicians



  21. Constitutionality as a Barrier and Brexit Barriers to UPC Keep the Whole Pipe Dream Deadlocked

    The UPC is still going nowhere fast, but the demise (or death) of the UPC as we know it must not be taken for granted



  22. Links 14/1/2017: Wine 2.0 RC5 and AryaLinux 2017 Released

    Links for the day



  23. Links 13/1/2017: Linux 4.9.3 and Linux 4.4.42

    Links for the day



  24. Brexit Means No UPC (Unified Patent Court)

    Now that Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson's brother, is officially declared the new minister for intellectual property in the UK everything that Lucy Neville-Rolfe wrote is as solid as paper bag on a rainy London day



  25. Patent Trolls and Software Patents: CloudTrade, Patent Practitioners Density, and Via Licensing

    Software patents armament from a British company, charted concentration of the patent microcosm in the United States, and US-leaning patent trolls that prey on China



  26. Patent Maximalism -- Like Copyright Maximalism -- Relies on Misconceptions and Mass Deception

    The latest examples of discussions about patent scope, courtesy of those looking to benefit financially by pushing such monopolies to the max



  27. Software Patents Still Promoted by IBM and Its Lobbyist (and Former Employee) David Kappos, in Defiance of Much-Needed US Patent Reform

    While the corporate media celebrates IBM as though it's some kind of 'champion' for hoarding patents that it then uses to attack companies which actually grow



  28. Brexit/Trump Effect: Patent Systems With Institutional Corruption and Nepotism

    Rumours about Britain's head of patents (and copyrights etc.) being the brother of the Brexit campaigner and Foreign Minister; meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, rumours suggest that the corrupt judge Rader might be the next head of patents in the United States



  29. Links 11/1/2017: X.Org Server 1.19.1, GitHub's Atom 1.13

    Links for the day



  30. The Patent Microcosm is Already Sucking up to Donald Trump in an Effort to Enrich Itself at Everyone's Expense

    Four new examples of patent maximalists embracing/adopting the pseudo-populist slogan to advance their goals of increasing litigation (which they profit from) and undermining PTAB (which made patents great in the quality sense)


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts